White House No Consensus on Russian Knowledge of Syrian Chemical Attacks CSPAN April 11, 2017 5:15pm-5:59pm EDT
issues. >> we asked the current congress and president to be more involved with cv technology on the road. it has the capability to prevent millions of accidents and save tens of millions of american lives. speed integration is largely dependent on public opinion and trusted that technology. this relaxed regulatory stance encourages innovation, however any compromise the safety will likely turn opinion against the technology and setback large-scale implementation many years. >> week, congress, have worked that 90% error to 0%. >> dear mr. president, work with congress to prevent 60 million accidents, $250 billion in accidents and over 38,000 deaths every year. >> to watch all of the prize-winning documentaries in this year's studentcam competition, visit studentcam.org. ♪ >> next, today's white house
re-think with press secretary sean spicer. he talks about the possibility of russia being involved in a chemical attack in syria, u.s. relations with china, and efforts to repeal and were placed the health care law. this is 40 minutes. >> someone was nice enough to have class outside today. rose garden press briefings. i want to start off this afternoon with a quick comment on the tragic and heartbreaking events that unfolded at a san bernardino school yesterday. it occurred after the briefing so i want to make sure i'd knowledge that our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the three victims. speedy and full recovery of those that were
wounded in the events that occurred. moving on to today, the president this morning read a discussion with -- had a discussion with private sector thinking about how the government can modernize and efficientbetter, more service to the american people. the companies represented in the room included nearly 4 million people worldwide and at least 1.7 8 million americans here in our nation. starting in small, interactive groups, the cabinet members share their strategic perspectives on how they might achieve those goals. the group came together and share their discussions with the president. themeeting was hosted by office of american innovation and it was another opportunity for the administration to engage private sector and harness its knowledge to provide into -- solutions to the country's biggest problems such as crumbling infrastructure and a broken system at the veterans administration.
also this morning they had several procedural steps to -- following the senate's overwhelming bipartisan vote of the device in consent of this ratification. gro --k forward to omntene enegro entering the alliance. the trump administration is taking action to secure our borders and keep the country safe. the administration is committed to ending smuggling gains and cartels -- gangs and cartels across the border. we will strengthen laws applying to those that are caught 10 -- attempting to illegally returned to the u.s. after prior removal. those that profit off of smuggling people across the border, we will make it clear
will make ite clear to the men and women of law enforcement that president trump has their back. a visit in moscow as part of our opent to maintain communication with russian officials and make sure the syria,states's views on terrorist efforts, north korea and other matters are conveyed. we are open to strategic cooperation with russia, when we can achieve a shared goal, such as defeating isis. we will stand up with -- for our interests when we do not see eye to i. other topics of international concern will also be discussed. secretary tillerson will make that clear during his visit. i want to make it known secretary mattis and the cocom commander will give a full briefing on the strike in syria that occurred today at the
department of defense at 3:30. at 4:00 i will be back here for an off-camera briefing with aney.ney -- mulv and we will also talk about reorganizing the executive branch. that is three briefings. we will have another tomorrow morning in advance of the nato meeting with the secretary-general. this afternoon's briefing we will talk about reducing the size of the federal and civilian workforce. we will be spending a lot of quality time together over the next 48, 28 hours. i would be glad to take a few questions. does the administration believe russia has any advance knowledge of -- did they believe [indiscernible]
i believe there was a background briefing earlier discussed. at this time, there is no consensus in the intelligence community that that is the case. >> any thoughts within the intelligence community --? mr. spicer: there was no consensus within the intelligence community that there was involvement. >> trump officials accused russia of helping syria cover-up assad's transgressions. did he still say putin is very smart, does this change the relationship? mr. spicer: number one, the president has made it clear from the beginning that he entered office thinking if he could get a deal with russia in our national interests, which i discussed during secretary
tillerson's meeting, we will do it. if we cannot find an area of national interest, we will not. there is no question, russia is isolated. they have a lined themselves with north korea, syria, iran. not exactly a group of countries we want to hang out with. with the exception of russia, they are all failed states. russia is not an island when it comes to its support of syria or lack of it knowledge meant over what happened. the facts are on our side, the actions of syria are reprehensible. i think that russia has been party to several international agreements that syria is not holding up to, that russia needs to hold themselves up to. the president has been very clear with his stance on russia. in this case, we will be very forceful. secretary tillerson during his visit, to make sure we let russia no they need to move up
the obligations they have made. what will this look like and when can we expect it? mr. spicer: great question, i think you know well enough at this point that we are not going to announce any of that kind of action until it is ready to go. madenk the president has it clear that additional action with respect to syria in terms of its failure to stop engaging in actions that harm its people will result in action. i am not going to get ahead of what he is planning to announce or when. but as he has made clear on a variety of circumstances, he is not one to telegraph's actions until he is ready. the administration identified an opposition party that could come to power in syria if there is a regime change? foremost,: first and i will state it again, our number one goal is to defeat isis. that is unequivocally the number
one thing. the political conditions existing now are such that what we need a rush and others to do is create a political environment in which the syrian people can choose a leader that is more suited to them. getting into that to be, what we are trying to do is shape the environment to allow the syrian people to determine their outcome. mark meadows said earlier this morning he thinks we are very close as a relates to health care and those two options given to the house speaker. believe white house you're very close on health care and have you signed off on those options? mr. spicer: two things. one, we are getting closer and closer every day. this has been a process that the chief of staff, president and others have been extremely engaged in behind the scenes. we clearly are getting closer.
more votes are moving in our direction. these ideas are very helpful and the conversations are getting closer. i do not want to prejudge the outcome but we feel good about the direction this is going. with respect to a couple meadows isongressman a suggesting, part of it has to be figuring out whether those attract additional votes and gain additional supports and do not detract. i know it sounds simple, but that is what this entire process has been about. he is reviewing a couple provisions, making an amendment. it is not a question of us signing off. we are good with of the direction this is going, as long as it continues to grow the vote. a lot of these provisions being discussed gives the state the flex ability enact certain provisions, which is consistent with our philosophy of giving
competition more choice in the state. >> video being played across television of united airlines, do you think the government should investigate them, the industry with regards to passenger treatment? sayspicer: i would just there have been clearly, law enforcement is reviewing the situation. there is plenty of law enforcement to review a situation like that. i know united airlines is stated they are currently reviewing their own policies. let's not get ahead of where that review goes. incident,.nfortunate -- incident. when you watch the video, it was troubling to see how that was handled. theirave clearly stated desire to review it, law enforcement is reviewing it. for us to get in front of what matter,e a simple local
not necessarily meeting a federal response. >> has the president seen a video? mr. spicer: i am sure he has. watches ahink anybody video and is not disturbed another human being is treated that way. one thing people have to understand is, when there is a potential law enforcement matter , for the president to weigh in pro or con can prejudice a potential outcome. clearly, watching another human being being dragged down an aisle, watching blood come out of their face after hitting an armrest, there is not a circumstance you can sit back of beenthis could not handled better, when you're talking about another human being. again, i do not think it is my place to get in the middle of judging how a company deals with it. there will clearly be enough review both on the corporate side and the law enforcement side, on how this was handled.
from a human to human standpoint to see a human being getting dragged down an aisle with their head banging off of armrests and do not think it could've been handled better, i would assume we can agree on that. syria,oreign policy and this administration continuing to limit refugees coming in from syria. trump spoke starkly about how effective he was by images he has seen. many images have been heart-wrenching for people. is the president reconsidering that aspect? mr. spicer: in terms of letting them in? you heard a lot of these refugees talk about the fact, they are not looking to fleet -- flee. the number one goal of this president is to make sure we protect our people, our country, and to keep those people from having to fully -- to flee.
our number one goal is grating a safer environment, de-escalating the environment, not trying to fly people out. we have been extremely supportive when it comes to the financial peace to this and looking to work in a diplomatic fashion. the goal is not to figure out how many people we can import to this country. there is clearly a security concern. those images have touched him, he was clear. with consent and guidance of his national security team, it was very moving. going back, i do not think you can watch those types of things -- not that you should have any type of human being, but when you see in particular young children and babies being gassed, it should move any human being with a heart. that partially dealt with why he acted so decisively. to see an individual under the assad regime, acting in a way
that reacted, we cannot condemn every act, but when you can it is of the same category of nuclear weapons for reason. ands that deadly horrific. when you recognize the use of chemical weapons, it is but in the same category of weapons of mass destruction because of what it does do an individual and the nature of an attack like that. even first responders were getting grossly affected. it moved him tremendously. reporter: the latest propagation's from pyongyang. what does he mean by solving the problem? mr. spicer: he has been clear he will not tolerate this action by north korea. but to answer your question, the president is not one who will
telegraph his response. he keeps his cards close to the vest. last week, when the president is willing to act, it will be decisive to make it clear. that is not what i said. i said, as you know, when the president is ready to act, he makes it clear and there is no question when the president is ready to make a statement, he will do that. he has made it clear with respect to north korea that their behavior and reactions are not tolerable. the nuclear north korea which threatens the u.s. or any other country, so we need stability in that region. i think he has put them on notice. reporter: the alliance between russia and syria goes back decades. president putin has supplied
personnel, military equipment. what makes you think at this point he will pull back with his support for president assad
and the syrian government? mr. spicer: we do not use chemical weapons in world war ii. you had a -- someone as despicable as hitler who do not think to use chemical weapons. you have to, if you are russia, ask yourself if this is a country you want to align yourself with. you have. signed withusly the agreement. could not stand up to your own word. russia but their name on the line. it is not a question of how long att alliance has lasted, but one point they recognize they are getting on the wrong side of history in a bad way really quickly. look at the country standing with them.
iran, syria, north korea. team you want you want to ba to be on. i think they recognize a line was crossed, one no country wants to see another cross. reporter: when does the white house plan on releasing president trump's tax return. second, how many people are you expecting? mr. spicer: two tough ones. one, thee first president has been under audit. we filed financial disclosure forms the other day. it allows everyone to understand , a tax return clearly lists how
much money you make, how much taxes you paid. every debt you owe. it is much more comprehensive. this question has been asked and answered over and over. the american people, the middle they are concerned about tax reform and allowing the economy to grow. with respect to the easter egg rule, a huge topic. i appreciate that. they are concerned about i think we will have an excellent time. come on. you cannot ask the question and not get the answer. we have worked very well. i think we have a very enjoyable day on monday. tickets have been sent out to the schools in the area. a large military contingent will be participating asi think we wn excellent well. five waves over two hours where
children and their families can come to the white house. outreachone community to bring a lot of schoolchildren in the area and it is going to be a great day. i don't have the number. we can probably get you an answer. i think they are working on the final numbers. i should be able to get to the number on that. reporter: last month, he said the white house is reviewing the policy on law. will the white house voluntarily release those visitor laws? mr. spicer: we have that shortly. reporter: secretary tillerson said it is the united states' al-assad willar not be part of the syrian future but it is up to the people to make that decision. actor and itd would be ideal to go, or whether
they white house thinks the atrocities are absolutely unacceptable and must go? mr. spicer: i don't see a peaceful state of syria in the future that has assad in charge. you cannot have a peaceful syria with assad in charge. i don't see how that ever works. no, i don't see a future of syria that has assad as the leader of the government. reporter: i want to ask you about some comments. trump, a mother of three kids. father will act in times like that. did ivanka play a role in president trump to attack syria? tedtpicer: we released a
alk when the president was talked about to his national security team. they were giving him his daily briefing and they went over what had gone on in syria. they came back to him later that day. it was a deputy principals meeting. . they brought back a series of questions and responses. his decision-making process continued aboard air force one on the way to florida. teamd a national security meeting in mar-a-lago and different elements that were gathered in secure locations. id, there is there ia no question others weighed in. when he himself saw images, he was very moved. i don't think there are many
humans that came into contact with the president during that time, did you see those images on television? i don't -- i think there was widespread acknowledgment, the images, the actions were horrific and required action. reporter: she supported it? mr. spicer: i have not asked her. i saw the reports. ivankai don't think stand any different from anyone else when it comes to the response we got. i don't. i don't know. i don't think it is that similar to what any human being would have said. reporter: you also said if there was anything -- it was to validate the fact there was a russian ties. it raises the question there with some political undertone.
can you respond? mr. spicer: i guess my point, would be after 80 plus days asking what the involvement is, i think with us acting, not having a conversation with moscow in the political sense, for all of the discussion about have any ties and back channels and this and show is it pretty clear and resolved that the united states was acting and not with anyone else -- no. every singlealmost day we have been asked about the so-called ties and back channels and i think there is an acknowledgment, if that was true, you would have seen some action that did not happen. reporter: we read the president's tweets. north korea threatened to take some nuclear action if the u.s.
launches, what they see as another provocation. what is the reaction to that? mr. spicer: i think there is no evidence that north korea has that capability at this time. i don't know that that could happen. reporter: they are making the threat. mr. spicer: threatening something you don't have the capability is not a threat. that,er: following up on the president noted china could certainly help on the north korean issue. lens and the fact it's going towards the sea of japan, maybe getting china to come to the table. is that what the president would like to see them to do? applied pressure on pyongyang? mr. spicer: the president discussed this last weekend in florida. china has an economic and
political influence on north korea over the years. i think when it comes to a shared national interest of ensuring that korea is not obtain the nuclear give abilities to threaten any people, that is something that was agreed upon as an area of shared national interest. i think north korea clearly understands where the united states stands. i think he would welcome president xi weighing in more. to be clear to them and the rest of the world what our position is. also ar: is that messaging circumstance or simply protective of our allies of japan and korea? mr. spicer: a carrier group, the forward deployment, it is a deterrence presence. it is prudent.
it ensures we have the strategic capabilities and gives the president options in the region. when you see a carrier group going into an area like that, presencerward is a huge deterrence. interested ins getting something done as quickly as possible. opportunities for people to get towork and lowering of taxes expansion andss even for lower, middle class americans. i wonder if this is a health care component then he still happened before you can move forward on that. mr. spicer: expansion and even for lower, middle class obviously, getting health care, repealing and replace done would open the amount of money we can use for the reconciliation process. that is why we made it very
clear from the beginning. it gives us a greater amount of resources to dedicate to tax reform. that being said, under every circumstance, months of getting tax reform done. that is one area they discussed today. one of the more important areas where you are seeing the president act is on the regulatory front. that is one of the largest burdens that manufacturers, unions, entrepreneurs talked to the president outcome of the about, despite the late regulate -- the stifling regulations. the president's ability to take immediate action. so far, under the congressional review act, the president signed 12 pieces of legislation. compares to one that was signed in every administration prior to this year total. i think that shows the
president's plans to create a better tax climate. an immediate regulatory impact to help businesses, break down the barriers, compete more. reporter: i
want to give you an opportunity to clarify something. oftler did not even think the level of chemical weapons." mr. spicer: when you come to gas, he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that assad is doing. there was clearly -- thank you. i appreciate that. he brought them into the holocaust center, and understand that. the way assad use them, drop them on innocent people. the use of that, that was not the intent. reporter: did the president speak with secretary tillerson before he went on this trip to
russia? the stern message that the secretary delivered today a direct message from the president to putin? mr. spicer: he was in florida with him. they met, tillerson and the president, after his meeting with president xi concluded. they talked since then as well. harsh words from secretary tillerson this morning about russia. mr. spicer: i don't know. -- i don't know the nature of their final conversations. i know there has been some evolution of the intelligence we have had and actions taken since friday. i don't know where the conversation laid off. i think secretary tillerson clearly speaks ofor the united states. reporter: speaking about secretary tillerson's trip and a
follow-up on the question i asked weeks ago. is he scheduled to meet with any of the civil society representatives outside of government? mr. spicer: i will refer you back to the state department. i think they are in charge of his schedule. i think it is best to look at the state department. reporter: is the president or anyone in the initiation get in touch with president erdogan on the actions in syria? mr. spicer: the vice president or secretary of defense spoke with him last week. there was a hearing for both defense minister and heads of state that i have to check. i thought he was on that list, but off the top of my head, i cannot recall. hope secretary tillerson can clearly conveyed to the russians -- does that
enhance meetings? if there is no meeting like that -- mr. spicer: obviously, he will meet with lavrov. that is the job of a foreign minister and secretary of state to meet with their counterpart. i think if he did not meet with president putin, he can convey his sentiments and thoughts so the united states of the foreign minister. reporter: the putin meeting with kerry and former secretary of state's influence? mr. spicer: we are not there yet. tillerson to see putin -- mr. spicer: there is irony for all the talks that were perpetuated about back channels and direct links, now they will not meet with you and undermine the relationship. i understand that. i think it is interesting we went from all of these direct
links to russia and now are we disappointed we cannot get a meeting with them. that is a bit of irony. reporter: i don't understand your point. links to russia and now are we i'm asking, the information campaign in syria. was regarded as carrying out a war crime. meeting with the russian president, having the secretary of state convey that message. mr. spicer: that is what he is doing. the head of the russian government will not be with him, he will convey it to his counterpart. we are not there yet. he is meeting with his counterpart and that is the appropriate person. we will wait and see. reporter: the russian president said all this talk about weapons of mass destruction reminds him of what he heard from the white house in 2003. despite the gas being used, what
do you say to the skeptics in moscow, other countries and here at home who doubt that? mr. spicer: there was a 45 minute briefing with members of the national security team prior to this which they walked through that level of confidence they have. i think anybody who doubt that would be doubting the intelligence, the entire international recording crew there to document this. the intelligence community, it is not a question of doubting us. it is doubting everybody but iran, syria, north korea and russia. reporter: using chemical weapons against his own people like saddam hussein. the regime change in iran as a result of that. why should it be the same policy for assad? mr. spicer: the premise of the
question suggests we don't want a new leader. i have stated two days in a row that we don't see a peaceful or stable syria in the future that has assad as the head. the number one priority is to make sure we stop the threat of isis and bring stability to the region. no question about it, there is no peaceful syria that assad is the head of. reporter: i want to clarify -- is the u.s. position as far as cooperation of russia that admit or agree that syria was behind the chemical russia musthat disown assad. can cooperation happen if russia maintains that position?
mr. spicer: i think that russia has joined an international agreement regarding the possession. susan rice said syria no longer had access to chemical weapons. we know that is not true. i think the united states, russia and others, signed division national agreement that syria was a part of that they would not only use but possess chemical weapons. we have to make sure we have the existing agreement. it is in the national interest of the united states to make sure the proliferation of chemical weapons spreads no further. that is something we have to be careful of. not just the deterrence of future use but also the proliferation of them. reporter: at this point, russia is not even agreeing that the syrian government carried out the attack. mr. spicer: i think that
secretary tillerson landed a few hours ago and will have an opportunity to talk. mentioned,as i you realize that this is not some big split as this actually happened. the only countries not supporting the u.s. position are syria, north korea, iran and russia. ,his is not a happy time cocktail party of people you want to be associated with. they are failed states with the exception of russia. these individual states. when russia saying they don't agree, they are not siding with other nations of stature. the agree with a small state. -- theythey are staring are defined in the worldview that doctors, intelligence agencies, reporters, civilians,
international experts have looked at and come to the same conclusion except for that. i don't think there is any other outcome than that. with that, we will see you in a little bit. thank you. >> here is a look at the primetime schedule on the c-span networks. at 8 p.m. eastern, preet bharara discusses criminal justice, president trump and his future plans. v with authorsok t and books on nasa. on c-span3, american history tv with a look at galleries and artifacts inside a national museum of african american history and culture. >> c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues. morning, thenesday staff writer for foreign policy discusses this week's trip of rex tillerson to moscow and the
future of u.s.-russian relations after last week's u.s. strike in syria. the discussion on what republicans could face as the attempt to replace and repeal the affordable care act. publisher of the nation on key progressive priorities and how to achieve them in a gop controlled government. discussing the supreme court and the conflict in syria. be sure to watch washington journal live at 7 a.m. wednesday morning. join the discussion. >> c-span cities tour along with the help of our comcast cable partners with his -- explore the history of charlottesville, virginia. saturday at new eastern, we visit the university of virginia to see their exhibit on william faulkner. >> we have a lot of wonderful
atifacts from his time virginia. among other things, we have a typewriter he was issued by the university. we have a jacket he wore. at virginia. as you can see, it is pretty torn up and ready. he likes to keep his clothing for a long time. he left his jacket on his office when he went to his lester in oxford, mississippi. >> onas you can american historo to thomas jefferson in monticello. ago andsited 20 years he would have seen jefferson beautiful villa. what we want to do was change that. we wanted to explore the landscape because if you had come up in jefferson's time, the first thing you would have seen was likely would be enslaved people.
there was the place on this mountaintop that slavery was not visible. forant to restore that visitors coming today. >> we will visit the miller center of the university of virginia to learn about their first year project and the challenges the u.s. president space on their first year on the job. hit -- how they the majority, you have one year before the congress something about you, the president and start thinking about themselves. about january of your second year after you have done the first year, all the members of congress arts inc. -- i thinking about the midterm election and cautious about making any w risks. >> watch the c-span cities tour on book tv and sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. on american history tv
on c-span3 and visiting cities across the country. >> here are some of these programs this holiday weekend on c-span. ofriefing on the discovery seven earthlike planets. >> we're using the telescope to study planets in the system to determine if they have hydrogen helium dominated atmospheres. ofalso the pros and cons genetically modified foods. >> we think all plans are gmo's figures there is nothing you buy in any of your grocery stores whether it is organic or conventional that has not been genetically modified. >> the white house easter egg roll event. and then a visit to the african-american history museum in washington.
>> i knew the nation was thirsty for this museum but i have to confess, i didn't know that the reaction would be this positive and this strong. >> a panel of federal judges discussing the history of the bill of rights. >> it is part of the whole constitution, it is hugely important designation of senses. a division of power. >> followed by a conversation with the sicilian institution, andlibrarian of congress david area. >> it is 166 million objects and other things. >> presidential historians. david area. >> it isdiscussing the presidenl leadership. >> it is interesting that the greatest american president, american -- abraham